Sign In

Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

The Fickleness of Fame

View as: Print Mobile App Share: Send by email Share on reddit Share on StumbleUpon Share on Hacker News Share on Tweeter Share on Facebook
The red carpet walked by celebrities at media events.

The study revealed four prototypical patterns of postmortem memory - a blip, silence, rise, and decline.

Credit: iStock

Scientists at Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Stanford University tracked mentions of more than 2,000 people who died between 2009 and 2014 to gauge how long recently deceased public figures remain in the collective memory.

The researchers algorithmically analyzed the daily frequency of mentions of each deceased person in mainstream news and on Twitter in the year before and after they passed away.

What they found were four prototypical patterns of postmortem memory: blip, silence, rise, and decline.

EPFL's Robert West said about half of all people studied produced few mentions before dying, then received a small blip after they died before reverting to pre-mortem levels of mentions.

Another 25% got basically no mentions, while a further 12.5% spiked when they died before mentions settle at levels higher than when they lived—usually politicians or athletes who are no longer active.

Artists who created long-lasting cultural legacies tend d to receive the largest average long-term attention boost following their deaths.

From Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland)
View Full Article


Abstracts Copyright © 2021 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


No entries found

Sign In for Full Access
» Forgot Password? » Create an ACM Web Account